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Aviva Premiership: Northampton battle to a hard-fought victory
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- Diamond slams 'foolish' Sale
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- O'Connor surprised by speed
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- Bath battle to Worcester win
- Wade brace lifts Wasps
- Sarries go back on top
- Tigers slump to Quins
- Steenson haul sinks Sale
Northampton cemented their position behind table-toppers Saracens with battling Aviva Premiership victory at London Irish.
Full-back James Wilson crossed for Saints in the first half and fly-half Stephen Myler kicked 14 points as they made it five league wins from seven matches with a 19-14 success.
Wing Sailosi Tagicakibau grabbed the Irish try with number 10 Ian Humphreys adding his side's extras with the boot.
All eyes were on controversial Australian James O'Connor who took centre stage for his Irish debut just a few days after signing a contract until the end of the season.
The versatile 23-year-old Queenslander, who has amassed 223 points in 44 caps for the Wallabies, took his bow at full-back and impressed throughout with his running skills as he seeks to rebuild his career following a series of off-field misdemeanours.
O'Connor was in the thick of the action from the start with a pass which almost put wing Topsy Ojo in for a try. But he was powerless to stop Saints from taking the lead as a Myler penalty pushed them ahead after Irish infringed at a ruck.
Humphreys replied for the hosts after Northampton were guilty of illegally playing the ball on the ground at a ruck.
Saints power ahead
Myler regained the lead for Saints with a penalty which deflected over off the inside of the right post and Wilson raced over for the opening try, cutting in off the right wing and taking a reverse pass from George Pisi in his stride to go over the line virtually untouched.
Myler converted and added a further penalty as Saints showed no signs of missing their England contingent of Dylan Hartley, Courtney Lawes, Tom Wood, Lee Dickson and Ben Foden.
Humphreys slotted home a three-pointer in between Myler's conversion and third penalty success and Irish suddenly found an extra gear on the stroke of half-time with quick ball from a ruck being swept along the line and O'Connor's final pass to Tagicakibau put the wing over for a fine try.
Trailing 16-11 at half-time, Irish were right back in the contest. However, they failed to build on that promise and they were unable to force their way over in the second period despite a dogged effort.
O'Connor showed his class and skill with a silky run through the Saints defence before being stopped in his tracks. Humphreys missed a difficult penalty chance but succeeded with his next effort to close the gap to just two points.
However, Myler responded in kind with his own penalty and Irish's late pressure - with one move lasting 25 phases - failed to break the Saints resolve.
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|Friday 6th March|
|19:45||Bath vs Sale Sharks|
|Saturday 7th March|
|15:00||Exeter vs London Welsh|
|15:00||Harlequins vs London Irish|
|15:15||Gloucester vs Northampton|
|Sunday 8th March|
|14:00||Wasps vs Saracens|
|15:00||Newcastle Falcons vs Leicester Tigers|
|Friday 27th March|
|19:45||Northampton vs Wasps|
|Saturday 28th March|
|15:00||London Irish vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Leicester vs Exeter|
|15:15||Saracens vs Harlequins|
|Sunday 29th March|
|14:00||Sale vs Gloucester|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Bath|
|Friday 10th April|
|19:45||Newcastle vs Bath|
|Saturday 11th April|
|15:00||Harlequins vs Gloucester|
|15:15||Saracens vs Leicester|
|Sunday 12th April|
|14:00||Exeter vs Northampton|
|14:30||London Welsh vs Wasps|
|15:00||London Irish vs Sale|
|Saturday 25th April|
|14:00||Sale vs Harlequins|
|15:00||Gloucester vs Newcastle|
|15:00||Bath vs London Irish|
|15:00||Northampton vs Saracens|
|15:00||Leicester vs London Welsh|
|Sunday 26th April|
|14:00||Wasps vs Exeter|
|Saturday 9th May|
|14:00||Sale vs Newcastle|
|Sunday 1st March|
|Wasps 32 - 21 Gloucester|
|Saturday 28th February|
|Exeter 16 - 6 Bath|
|Saracens 22 - 17 Newcastle Falcons|
|Leicester Tigers 28 - 8 Sale Sharks|
|London Welsh 12 - 50 London Irish|
|Friday 27th February|
|Northampton 17 - 13 Harlequins|
|Sunday 22nd February|
|London Irish 6 - 12 Leicester Tigers|
|Saturday 21st February|
|Bath 13 - 21 Northampton|
|Harlequins 21 - 32 Exeter|
|Gloucester 48 - 10 London Welsh|
|Sale Sharks 14 - 10 Saracens|
|Friday 20th February|
|Newcastle 23 - 23 Wasps|
|Sunday 15th February|
|Wasps 37 - 6 Harlequins|
|London Welsh 12 - 52 Sale|
|Saracens 34 - 24 Bath|
|Saturday 14th February|
|Exeter 46 - 17 Newcastle|
|Friday 13th February|
|Leicester 18 - 15 Gloucester|
|Northampton 15 - 9 London Irish|
|Sunday 11th January|
|London Irish 28 - 26 Exeter|
|Newcastle 38 - 7 London Welsh|
Read the thoughts and opinions of Phil Edwards with skysports.com